Supreme Court of Singapore: A Five Judge Bench comprising of Sundaresh Menon, CJ., Andrew Phan Boon Leong, Judith Prakash, Tay Yong Kwang, Steven Chong, JJ., allowed an appeal filed against the order of the High Court whereby the High Court refused to grant a stay in favour of the appellants.

The appellant had entered into four different contracts with different parties and all the contracts contained an Exclusive Jurisdiction Clause (EJC) i.e. in case if any dispute arises between the parties, the High Court of England shall have the exclusive jurisdiction to deal with such dispute. A dispute arose between the appellant and the respondent and the respondent filed a suit against the appellant in Singapore.

The main issue that arose before the Court, in this case, was whether the Assistant Registrar, as well as the High Court, was justified in refusing to grant a stay in suit proceedings in favour of the appellant.

The Court observed that the appellant had made out a good arguable case with regard to the EJC being a term in the contract and not just a part of the written agreement between the parties. EJC was incorporated by the parties’ course of dealings into the Contract. The Court then observed that the rule laid down in the case of The Jian He, [1999] 3 SLR(R) 432 was that in if the party seeking a stay does not have a good arguable or meritorious case then that would be a sufficient ground for the court to refuse a stay order. The only two grounds on the basis of which stay can be refused in cases involving an EJC clause are: abuse of process and denial of justice.

The Court held that neither of the two grounds for refusing the stay were made out and hence there was no strong cause for refusing the grant of stay. Resultantly, the appeal was allowed and a stay was granted by the court on suit proceedings pending against the appellant. [Vinmar Overseas (Singapore) Pte Ltd. v. PTT International Trading Pte Ltd., (2018) SGCA 65, order dated 22-10-2018]

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